MUMBAI: Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote are the two men who have been accused of hatching the conspiracy and instigating a mob at Koregaon Bhima to indulge in violence on Monday.
Who is Sambhaji Bhide?
Don’t get fooled by his frail appearance. This 85-year-old Sambhaji Bhide, a staunch Hindutva activist and an ardent follower of Chhatrapati Shivaji is accused of Pune violence.
He is a man with no house and wears no footwear but enjoy huge following of millions including youth in western Maharashtra.
Known to his supporters and admirers as ”Guruji’, Bhide is not new to controversy.
In 2008, Bhide was booked along with his followers after they ransacked movie halls protesting against the release of Bollywood film Jodha-Akbar.
A gold medallist in M.Sc. in Physics from Pune University, Bhide has worked as a professor at Pune’s Fergusson College before becoming a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a full-timer pracharak.
The heavyweight leader heads a self-formed organization called “Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan” in Kolhapur.
It is noteworthy that Bhide’s aura is such that even PM Modi takes inspiration from him.
During Lok Sabha polls in October 2014, when PM Modi visited Sangli, he specially met Sambhaji Bhide.
PM Modi had said he had come to seek blessings of Bhide Guruji who had been an inspiration during the early days of his life.
“I did not come to Sangli on my own, but I was given orders by Bhide Guruji to visit his city, and here I am,” the PM is reported to have said at an election rally in Sangli district.
Not just PM but also the current Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and several heavyweight political figures admired him.
Who is Milind Ekbote?
On the other hand, there is a 56-year-old Milind Ekbote who has been associated with the BJP in the past and his entire family is associated with the RSS.
Ekbote worked as a BJP corporator in Pune between 1997 and 2002. In 2007, after losing the corporation election, he floated his outfit Samast Hindu Aghadi
According to the Mumbai Mirror report, Ekbote once come to blows with a Muslim corporator over the construction of Haj house.
A self-proclaimed ‘cow vigilant, Ekbote has some 12 cases of rioting, trespassing, dacoity, criminal intimidation, and attempts to spread enmity between two communities against him.
Nevertheless, both Bhide and Ekbote enjoy sizeable support.
Bhide has so much influence among current youth population in Maharashtra that at his one call, about 4-5 lakh youths can gather at one spot and support him till their death.
Both the leaders allegedly orchestrated the violence at Bhima Koregaon and was booked under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and under various sections of the IPC.